Christmas Day (Year C)

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

Christmas Homily: Mass During the Day

By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp

Isaiah 52:7-10

Hebrews 1:1-6

John 1:1-18

The Reindeer Gospel

 Santa’s most popular reindeer by far is Rudolf, Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer. Here is his story as told in music by Johnny Marks: Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose. And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows. All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolf play in any reindeer games. Then one foggy Christmas eve Santa came to say: “Rudolf with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Then all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee: “Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!” The story of Rudolf, is the story of salvation. It is our story both as individuals and as the human family. In our own case it is not Santa who saves us but the Child Jesus.

To begin with, Rudolf was a misfit. Compared to the image of the ideal reindeer we can say that something was definitely wrong with him. What is more, he was not in any position to help himself. So are we all, misfits, as the Bible tells us. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). Like lost sheep we are not in a position to help ourselves. Rudolf could not help himself. All that his fellow reindeer did was to makes things worse for him. Only one person could help him, Santa, the messenger from heaven.

Today we celebrate the birth of the Messenger from heaven. As we read in today’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). He comes to liberate us from the human predicament, our sinfulness. For it is sin that mars and disfigures the beautiful image of God that we all are. Sin turns us into a despicable Rudolf, the red-nosed reindeer. But the heavenly Messenger comes, not to take away the red nose but to declare to us the Good News that we are acceptable to God even with the red nose. Rudolf’s red nose was a defect. But Santa chose him precisely on account of that. The heavenly Messenger has the ability to turn the defects and red noses of our tainted humanity into assets for the service of God. Jesus is this heavenly messenger.

What makes the reindeer gospel so poignant is that Santa does not use his magic wand to heal Rudolf of his red nose defect. He let him go on with the red nose even as his chosen reindeer. Certainly Rudolf would have wanted nothing so much as to be a normal reindeer like all the rest. Similarly Jesus does not simply make us good men and women, rather he makes us into people who can use all their strengths and defects to the service and the glory of God. This is the proof to us that it is not by our own will power that we are able to become children of God. It is by God’s grace, by God’s unmerited and unconditional love of us. As God tells St Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

How does the grace of God achieve this transformation in us? God’s grace works two things in us: enlightenment and empowerment. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). God’s truth enlightens us and God grace empowers us. God’s truth enlightens us to see ourselves and our world in a new light. It is a word that brings reassurance, affirmation and hope. You can imagine how Rudolf felt when he heard the words of Santa, “Rudolf with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” That is why we call it the Good News. It is news that is liberating and empowering. It empowers us by changing our former disposition of insecurity, despair and hopelessness into that of blessed assurance, new hope and enthusiasm in the Lord’s service.

Like Rudolf before Santa, let us today listen to the Message that the Child Jesus brings us, let us commit ourselves into his service without looking back, even when we do not know where the journey will lead us, knowing one thing for sure: that the grace of God will supply the strength we need for the long journey of faith ahead. “For to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).

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A reason for the season

December 6, 2009, 4:59pm

Manila Bulletin

Christmas is the feast of the Incarnation, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, true God and true man, as a baby in Bethlehem. The Infancy Narratives of St. Matthew and St. Luke form the basis of the Christmas celebration.

The history of Christmas dates back to the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ around 4 B.C. While many Christians recognize Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus, so many secular traditions have come to be associated with Christmas. These traditions are fun and endearing but we should not lose sight of the fact that Christmas is primarily a Christian holy day. It is also all about unity among people, a unity which highlights the importance of family.

Today, there is a measurable turning of the tide from materialism towards more traditional values and perspectives. Holidays are great traditions that give children a sense of belonging. They are all about being together as family, enjoying one another’s company. Christmas means sharing and expressing love for one another, doing and saying things one does not get around to doing the rest of the year.

This holiday season, take the time to express your love for your family members. Though they maybe insignificant, they are things we will hold dear to our hearts for a lifetime.

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Speaking Out

A Christmas gift for OFWs

By ATTY. IGNACIO BUNYE

December 6, 2009, 5:03pm

There are no words to describe the heroism and sacrifice of our overseas Filipino workers. Feeling homesick and lonely, they still make sure to send extra money back home, so their families could experience an extra special Christmas celebration even without them.

This selfless practice has resulted in a notable surge in remittances during the last months of the year, particularly in December. Even with the global financial crisis, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said remittances hit $1.4 billion in December alone last year, an increase of 0.8 percent over the same period in 2007.

BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said that remittances continue to account for around 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and equivalent to 10 times the country’s foreign direct investments.

According to Guinigundo, the realization of the Philippine economy’s long-term growth potential also depends on how remittances can be harnessed as an important tool for sustainable development.

In an effort to enhance the remittance environment for migrant Filipino workers, BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. last week signed an agreement with the Association of Bank Remittance Officers, Inc. (ABROI), represented by Carmelita Araneta, Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), represented by Aurelio Montinola III, the Chamber of Thrift Banks (CTB), represented by Pascual Garcia III, and the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines, represented by Joseph Omar Andaya.

The agreement will enable the groups’ members to use the Bangko Sentral’s Philippine Payments and Settlements System (PhilPass) — a system that enables banks and other non-banks with quasi-banking functions (NBQBs) to settle their payments in real time — for interbank remittance transfers.

According to Deputy Governor Armando L. Suratos Jr., who manages the PhilPass, the use of the PhilPass’ technology will not only allow faster and safer transmission of remittances from an OFW to his beneficiaries; it will also significantly reduce the fees they have to pay for the transaction.

Under the present setup, OFWs have to pay anywhere from P100 to P500 when the bank where they deposited their remittance is different from the bank of their beneficiaries back home. This bank would have to hire the services of a courier to deliver the funds to the other bank.

Banks could also use the Electronic Peso Clearing System (EPCS) of the Philippine Clearing House Corporation (PCHC), which provides a check clearing system for member banks. However, OFWs have to pay additional back-end processing fees and risk delays in transactions with this method.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said that given these delays and the disturbing incidents of theft and robbery involving a number of couriers tasked to deposit remittances, PhilPass is seen as a safer, faster, and more efficient option for migrant Filipino workers.

With PhilPass, participating banks can charge a significantly lower standard back-end processing fee of only P50 per remittance transaction.

The use of BSP’s payment and settlement system will also allow for a feedback interbank mechanism that will ensure the real time transmission of the remittance.

Tetangco said the systems integration of ABROI member banks with the BSP’s PhilPass will be completed before the end of the year, and is expected to be operational by late February or March next year.

BSP estimates that remittance transactions average 66 million per year, of which transmissions through “credit to other banks” account for eight percent or an average of 5,000 transactions daily.

Tetangco said this will result in savings of at least P75 million in annual remittance fees for migrant Filipinos — a very significant “consuelo” and Christmas gift for our modern-day heroes.

* * *

Last Thursday, BSPers witnessed the annual traditional lighting ceremony at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Against the backdrop of the recent global financial turmoil, the BSP’s yearly tradition means a lot.

I look at the BSP’s Christmas lights as a symbol of hope to the Filipino people, especially during this special time of the year when optimism should abound. That despite the darkness brought about by the global crisis, the Philippine economy stays strong and resilient, and that there is indeed reason to hope amid the many challenges we face as a people.

Congratulations to BSP Managing Director Manuel Torres and his staff who put together the impressive displays that adorn the facades of the BSP fronting Roxas Boulevard and Mabini Street, as well as the BSP lobby. Ninety percent of the materials used were recycled from glass diffusers!

Note: You may e-mail us at totingbunye2000@gmail.com.

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Below the Line

Pasko na naman!

By AMBASSADOR JOSE A. ZAIDE

December 6, 2009, 5:04pm

The weapons cache that AFP recovered from Ampatuans possibly included CAFGU arsenal. After Bernardo Carpio saved the maiden by slaying the ogre who guarded the Montalban mountain range, our hero would be doomed to the perpetual task of keeping two mountains from crushing the village.

Christmas season switched on last Thursday, 3 December, with the lighting of the giant tree fronting España to usher in the 7th Christmas Concert Gala at the University of Santo Tomas Chapel.

The event was co-chaired by Rev Fr. Isidro C. Abano, OP, and Cristina Ma. Cristina C. Zobel. Ms. Zobel as Medici provided the bubbly and caviar for apres concert reception at the UST Museum, while Fr. Albano, OP, was ready to multiply the bread and fish if these ran out with the overflow crowd.

University Rector Rev. Fr. Rolando V. de la Rosa, OP welcomed guests, including the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, the Papal Nuncio Msgr. Eduard Joseph Adams, the Ambassadors and their spouses, UST alumni, and the literati et glitterati in bling.

Fr. De la Rosa enjoined Filipinos who excel in many things, especially in music, to celebrate, and not recriminate.

He confessed that the evening performance was a warm-up exercise to the celebration of the 400th year of UST in 2011.

The pealing of bells of Lucio San Pedro’s Simbang Gabi opened the concert. (I knew the lyrics by heart as one of three stage-propped to complete Rolando Tiño’s choreography for the Ateneo Glee Club – even though we were admonished not to let a note slip out of our lip-sync).

The concert continued on a world tour of Christmas carols and liturgical music – by Coro Tomasino, UST Singers, Liturgikon Vocal Ensemble, Tiples de Santo Domingo, USTeMundo Ethnic Ensemble, sopranos (Rachelle Gerodias, Ferleoni Medina, Marie-Anne Dominese), tenors (Lemuel dela Cruz, Christian Paul Anthony Nagaño, Ronan Ferrer, Abdul Canadao), baritone Andrew Fernando, and the UST Symphony Orchestra under the flawless baton of Herminigildo G. Ranera.

The piece de resistance was “Agnus Dei” by Islamic tenor Abul Candao, who flew in from Vienna.

Knowing how his father, the late governor of Cotabato, was gunned down in warlord politics and with fresh backdrop of the Maguindanao carnage, Abul’s aria was an interfaith prayer for national healing.

UST Regent Fr. José Tiongco said that the university’s alumni fly home from opera houses abroad on invitation of their alma mater. The UST Philharmonic Orchestra is also beneficiary of first category musical instruments (including 67 violins) from the San Miguel Philharmonic.

Crossing to another muse, Juvenal Sano celebrated his octogenarian year with two week-long exhibits. The first was at Gateway on 23 November under the patronage of the Chargé d’Affaires of Colombia Minister Stella Suarez Araneta and Consul General George Araneta.

Jack Teotico of Galerie Joaquin impresarioed the second exhibit, Sansó, Pioneer of Expressionism, at the Art Center of SM Megamall. At the Friday Dec. 4 opening, art critic Dr. Reuben Cañete delivered an erudite dissertation on Sanso’s oeuvre, – revealing penumbra not known to the cognoscenti …and possibly even to the artist himself.

Invited to speak, the artist measured few words and let his canvas do the talking. This recalls the adage of “Mang Enteng” Manansala… that if he could speak, he need not paint.

The exhibit includes never before seen works of Sanso spanning six decades, some of which are loaned by private collectors. A few pieces are available with price tag of six figures. Ever generous to guests at his 80th birthday exhibit, Sanso raffled off three works for lucky winners. The exhibit runs until 16 December, the start of “Simbang Gabi.”

To celebrate her 83rd birthday Marina Salandanan, Filipina grandmother blessed with 18 grandchildren and expectant of her first great-grandchild in 2010, went parasailing in Mexico last November 7. Asked about the fear factor in the sport, this widow of a pilot who crashed in 1963 at Mt. Apo answered, “I was used to flying with [my husband] José…. and up there, I feel much closer to him.”

Pampanga voters elected Fr. Ed Panlilio governor for a clean government and an assurance that he could not start a political dynasty. But now that he decided to leave the priesthood to run for re-election, they can’t be too sure of “no dynasty” or celibacy. Feedback: jaz@mb.com.ph

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Pasko ay simbolo ng pagbabagong buhay

By Mayor JEJOMAR C. BINAY

December 24, 2009, 7:34pm

Sunod-sunod na pagsubok ang dinaanan ng ating bansa at ng marami nating kababayan sa taong ito.

Nariyan ang mga bagyong Ondoy at Pepeng, at ang mga pagbaha sa Metro Manila at sa ibang bahagi ng Luzon.

Nagimbal tayo sa nangyari sa Maguindanao, lalo na nang magdeklara ng martial law at muling magkaroon ng banta sa ating demokrasya.

At ngayon naman, libu-libo nating kababayan sa Bicol ang magdiriwang ng Pasko sa mga evacuation centers dahil sa kinakatakutang pagsabog ng bulkang Mayon.

Marami ang nagsasabi na para raw nababalot ng lungkot at pangamba ang buong bansa.

Gayunpaman, higit nararapat na sa panahong ito ay ipagdiwang natin ang Pasko.

Ang Pasko ay simbolo ng pagbabagong buhay. Araw ito ng kapanganakan ni Jesus. Araw ito ng bagong pag-asa.

Sa panahon din ng Kapaskuhan mamamayani sa bawat puso ang diwa na pagsasalu-salo, ang pagbibigay sa kapwa ng kahit anuman na ating makakaya, lalo na sa mga kapos sa buhay.

Likas sa ating mga Pilipino ang pagiging matulungin. Napatunayan natin yan nang dumaan ang bagyong Ondoy at Pepeng at tuwing mangangailangan ang mga kapus-palad nating mga kababayan.

Sa aking palagay, ang prinsipyo ng pagtulong – ang prinsipyo ng pagsasalu-salo – ang prinsipyong dapat na gumagabay sa pamahalaan. Sa Makati, napagsasaluhan ng lahat ang biyaya ng kasaganahan. Wala akong nakikitang dahilan para hindi ito mangyari sa buong bansa.

Lagi ko ngang sinasabi na anuman ang dumaan sa ating buhay, anuman ang pagsubok, huwag tayong panghinaan ng loob. Kapag may tiwala sa Panginoon at tiwala sa sarili, umasa tayong gaganda ang buhay.

Isang maligaya, maunlad at mapagpalayang Pasko sa ating lahat.

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Be humble, empowered

By Former President JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA

December 24, 2009, 7:36pm

Today we gather as a nation to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who taught us that with faith we may receive the gift of eternal life.

It is a time to remember Christ’s lessons: That it is by being humble that we are empowered, that it is by forgiving that we are forgiven, and that it is by giving that we receive.

As we celebrate this joyous time of the year, we must not forget the victims of the event that hurt our country this past year. Let us pray for the souls of those we lost to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. This Christmas will be a sad one for their families, who will be missing them dearly at the Noche Buena table. In the spirit of giving, we must resolve to continue in extending our help to those who have survived but were left by their loved ones or otherwise greatly affected, just as we rebuild our nation from the aftermath of those typhoons.

Let us pray for the souls of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre, whose deaths will only be given justice if real democracy with peace and order is restored and political warlordism is put to an end.

Let us remember our Overseas Filipino workers, whose extraordinary sacrifice has kept our economy afloat through the most challenging times of the world economy. It is their heroism that has made the various crises that affected our country in the past year bearable. We must remember that while the food that we eat as we celebrate may be from one of them, nothing can replace their presence at the dinner table.

Let us remember our farmers, who have brought us the meals with which we celebrate the season yet may not have anything to eat on Christmas eve.

So let this be a season of real giving. As Christ was about service, so must we serve our less fortunate brothers and sisters. As Christ was about forgiveness, let us come together as a nation to rebuild what has been destroyed by those who could not think beyond themselves and their families. As Christ was about unity, let us renew our common sense of purpose to serve one another as we serve the Lord.

Sapagkat ang Pasko ay tungkol sa pagmamahal sa kapwa, Sapagkat nasa pagkakawang-gawa angt tunay na diwa ng Pasko. At dahil sa pagkakaisa lamang natin makakamit ang tunay na kaligayahan na dulot ng Kapaskuhan.

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Peace be upon all of us

By FORMER PRESIDENT FIDEL V. RAMOS

December 24, 2009, 7:36pm

Our simple and doable Christmas message is “Peace Be Upon All of Us,” especially those afflicted, grieving, or seemingly hopeless.

For our people in Mindanao, the message of Peace could be truly welcome and comforting.

Let us all learn from the writings of two eminent religious scholars, one a Christian Pastor, the other a Muslim Imam who both emphasize the values of Christmas.

In Pastor Mike Beaumont’s book, “The One-Stop Bible Guide,” he wrote: “The Christmas story is one of the best known stories in the world, although also one of the least understood. Every year children dressed as shepherds and angels entertain relatives with their nativity plays. But behind the simplicity of the story lies a truth of unimaginable importance, that God was coming to the world•

“The Bible speaks of Jesus laying aside his divinity (‘God-ness’) and becoming a real man to further God’s plan. This miracle is called ‘the incarnation’ (from the Latin ‘in carne’ — in the flesh). Christianity is about God coming to look for man, rather than man looking for God. By committing himself in daily work till he began his public ministry at the age of thirty, Jesus highlighted that work was not an inconvenient hindrance to spiritual life, but was instead part of life. Work is not a curse but a blessing, and Christians believe that God can be both found in it and served in it as much as in anything else.”

On the other hand, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid wrote in “Treating Christmas with Respect” (soundvision.com), thus: “Allah says: ‘Do not argue with the People of the Book [Christians] unless it is in the politest manner, except for those of them who do wrong. Say: We believe in what has been sent down to us and what has been sent down to you. Our God and your God is [the same] One, and we are Muslims before Him.” (Quran, 29:46).

“A starting point for a discussion about Christmas could be the Islamic belief in all Books revealed by Allah and all Prophets sent by Him. In this discussion, special emphasis could be made on Prophet Jesus. Non-Muslims are often surprised to discover that Muslims also believe in this noble Prophet and his great mother Mary (peace be upon her).”

These two clear presentations on Christ’s nativity teach us all that we must pray more earnestly — particularly for our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, the poor, defenseless, and innocents — so that true peace will finally be upon all of us this Christmas Season and thereafter.

Let us pray as we perform, and perform as we pray, is a universal mandate that is well-understood by men and women of goodwill everywhere, regardless of religious faith.

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Real essence of Christmas

By Manila Mayor ALFREDO S. LIM

December 24, 2009, 7:37pm

Too much materialism in the world has diminished the real essence of Christmas: that of the coming of God our Father’s Son, Jesus Christ, into our world to save it from sinfulness and shame. Christmas has been trivialized into Santa Claus, his reindeers, Christmas lights and trees and lots of toys and goodies to bring cheer to humankind on this festive holiday season.

Fortunately, this materialism that shrouds most parts of the globe has not entirely infected the spirits and traditions of the Filipinos, who still look at Christmas as a period of preparing for the coming of God into the Earth by transforming himself into a human being—complete with flesh, blood, sufferings and poverty.

As we approach the actual coming of our Savior, let us reflect how we have, individually and collectively, been preparing ourselves in mind, body and spirit, for this joyful and spiritually reinvigorating moment in our predominantly Catholic nation.

Have we allowed ourselves to be fooled by the lies, deceptions and machinations of power, material wealth, influence and even the pride of being more smart and knowledgeable than our fellowmen?

Or do we still treasure in our psyche the humility and servility of our Lord God when he opted to subdue his interest over the will of His Father by coming down on Earth to live and suffer with us and later die on the cross for our sins?

The nine days of Simbang Gabi that preceded Christmas Day is actually the best preparation we could give for ourselves to welcome the coming of our Savior. The sacrifice of waking up to hear the dawn masses everyday or for that matter staying up late for the anticipated dawn masses in our parishes for nine straight nights in a way makes us feel closer to the Lord.

As we celebrate Christmas in the relative comfort of our homes, let us not forget our brothers and sisters deep in misery over the loss of loved ones in battle, in accident; illnesses or crime; those languishing in prison; those with barely anything on their table to fondly remember the passing of this happy day and our fellow Filipinos abroad who have to toil and labor this day because their foreign employers do not believe in celebrating Christmas.

Though we may not all have the resources to share with our less fortunate brethren, let us remember them in our prayers and masses this Christmas Day and let us extend little acts of kindness that will help them feel loved and cared for in this very important Christian celebration. For after all, we are God’s people and our Father in Heaven looks at all of us equally.

Let us all humble ourselves in the eyes of God just as His Son Jesus came into our midst in the humility of a manger where animals were kept with no comfortable mattress on His back.

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Jesus brings peace to earth

By BISHOP EFRAIM M.TENDERO, D.D. PCEC National Director

December 24, 2009, 7:38pm

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:14)

The birth of Jesus, who is called the Prince of Peace, brought peace on earth. As the source and sustainer of peace, He made possible four kinds of peace to mankind.

First is peace with God. By dying on the cross on our behalf, He took away our sins. This paved the way for harmony between God and human beings (Romans 5:1). Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, we have peace within ourselves as a result of our peace with God. We are able to confidently approach God and make our requests made known to Him, thus we can spare ourselves from being anxious about anything. Moreover, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Third, we have peace with other people. This enables us to relate harmoniously with our fellowmen (Ephesians 2:14). When Jesus gave Himself on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility between human beings and now we can genuinely accept and love each other as Christ loved us.

Finally, we have peace with the whole of God’s creation (ecological peace) (Romans 8:21). Creation was subjected to decay when men sinned. As we are set free from our sinfulness by the sacrificial death of Jesus, we can become better stewards of creation and be agents of its responsible and sustainable care.

Families, communities, and our nation as a whole need peace—the kind of peace that can only be experienced when we recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and put our trust in Him. This Christmas let the peace that comes from Jesus rule our hearts and minds.

Merry Christmas!

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Word Alive

Christmas story changed him

By FR. BEL R. SAN LUIS, SVD

December 26, 2009, 7:49pm

Let me share this true story, which illustrates that when the Christmas peace and reconciliation are practiced, they can truly end hatred and violence.
* * *
Two families living side by side in the mountains of Kentucky, USA, had been fighting and quarreling for years.

The feud started when Grandfather Smith’s cow jumped over the stone fence of Grandfather Brown and ate his corn. Brown shot the cow.
* * *
Then one of the Smith boys shot one of the Brown boys, in fact, two of them, while the Browns had shot only one of the Smiths.

Bill, the oldest of the Brown family, decided to even up matters, especially since it was his own father who had been killed.
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But Bill was called away to war. While he was away his mother had a hard time providing for the family.

One Christmas the head of the Smith family took his wife and children to church. Usually he stayed outside, but it was so cold so he decided to go in and wait.
* * *
The sermon was on Christ, the Prince of the Peace. It struck Smith’s heart. On his way home he passed the home of the Browns and he began to realize what a crime he had committed in killing the breadwinner.
* * *
He prayed. He did more. He hired a small boy to carry a basket of food to the Browns every day.

When Bill came home, and heard of this kindness, he decided to find out who the generous helper was. He followed the little boy-–to the door of Smith’s house.
* * *
He could not believe his eyes. When Smith answered his knock, he smiled and declared: “Shoot me, Bill, if you want to.”

But Bill said he had come to thank him for taking care of his family while he was gone.
* * *
Then Smith explained to Bill how he had come to a change of heart. He had heard the story of the first Christmas, the story of the Prince of Peace.

It changed him.
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How about us? If Christmas this year should be meaningful, let’s practice its message of peace—whether in our own families, workplaces, and country. The trouble with our celebrations is we enjoy the feasting and merry making but overlook its deeper lessons.
* * *
The author Joan Wester Anderson says: “Forgiveness is not a feeling, but an act of the will. It is possible—and quite normal to forgive and still feel hurt, angry, and resentful, at least for a time.

“But the painful episode can be firmly put aside instead of dwelling on the hurt so that effective healing will follow.”
* * *
According to Catholic teaching, we are not forbidden to claim our just rights before the lawful authority in cases of unjust killing, like in the Maguindanao massacre, if proven guilty ,or in serious injury, or loss of property, honor, or reputation.
* * *
On taking revenge, non-violence advocate Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we live by an ‘eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth’ kind of justice, the whole world would become blind and toothless today!”

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OUR FOREMOST DESIRE THIS CHRISTMAS

Through Untrue

By FR. ROLANDO V. DE LA ROSA, O.P.

December 22, 2012, 8:10pm

THE healing of a leper is one of my favorite gospel stories. It is a beautiful story of divine mercy face to face with human misery. As narrated by the evangelists Matthew and Luke, the dialogue between the leper and Jesus went:

Leper: “Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean.”

Jesus: “I do want it. Be healed.”

This is not just a dialogue consisting of words. It is a dialogue fueled by mutual desire. The leper desires to be healed; Jesus desires to heal.

We are creatures of desire. We naturally crave for satisfaction, for contentment, but since we are insatiable, every pleasure eventually bores us or leave us clamoring for more.

This ravenous appetite, however, is not a defect. It is, in fact, a built-in software in human nature that contains a program which Pope Benedict calls the “pedadogy of desire.” In his message on November 7, 2012, he writes: “Let us promote a kind of pedagogy of desire, to help people never to be satisfied with what has been achieved, but must lead them to a healthy unrest – to desire a higher, more profound good – and at the same time, to perceive with increasing clarity that nothing finite can fill our hearts.” He echoes what St. Augustine wrote centuries ago: “You have made us for theyself O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

In the Gospels, Jesus applies this pedagogy. He provokes human desire, awakens and intensifies it, even unmasks it of the trappings of lust, greed, and inordinate self-love. Jesus finds His way to our hearts through our very human desires.

Sadly, many of us have reduced Christianity from a religion of desire to a rigid system of duties and obligation. We have abandoned our desire for God and replaced it with the knowledge of the Bible and ethical principles; routinary prayers and worship; devotion to our Christian duties and obligations; and breathless involvement in current issues and controversies.

If attending the Mass is a source of holiness, the daily Church-goers must be very holy by now. So, why are they not? Those of us who go regularly to confession must have received by now a Ph.D. in Sin Management. But why do we continue sinning?

Well, perhaps because we have not really desired healing as passionately as the leper had. We cannot yet say as David in Psalm 16: “As the deer yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for You my God.” Or in Psalm 63: “O God You are my God for You I long, for You my soul is thirsting, my body pines for You like a dry weary land without water.”

God did not become a human being to become an object of duty and obligation. He wants to be desired, to be needed, to be wanted, and above all, to be passionately loved. May He be our foremost desire this Christmas.

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/386772/our-foremost-desire-this-christmas#.UNgdQawm8eU

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Christmas is meaningless without faith—Cardinal

MANILA, Dec. 23, 2012—The celebration of Christmas becomes meaningful only because of our faith in God, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said in a Christmas message.

Christmas is all about faith, he said, thus removing faith from the celebration of Christmas is “to empty it of its meaning.”

“It is a season born of faith and a privileged time to renew our faith,” he furthered.

Musing on this year’s Christmas season which is celebrated within the Year of Faith that began last October, the cardinal asked: “What can the Year of Faith contribute to the Christmas spirit?”

“Faith is a living and sustained relationship with God. It is the Triune God who initiates this relationship by coming to us,” he said.

“Faith becomes complete in our response to God in trust and love, transforming our relationship with other people, society and creation,” the cardinal continued.

Our faith leads us to be in unity with the poor and “makes us to be sharers in Jesus’ saving mission and heralds of true freedom from all that enslaves us.”

Jesus’s coming and becoming “one like us except in sin”, “opens the door for us to enter God’s life. His obedience and fidelity is the door to God. He is the way,” Tagle said.

He stressed that every Christmas season is an invitation to everyone to “receive Jesus as the true Son of God become flesh, to accept him as our Savior and to enter the door to life in the Holy Spirit.”

Concluding his Christmas message, he said, “I pray that all Christians may appreciate more the precious gift of faith during this Christmas season. As we behold the Christ Child, humble and poor, let us thank God for his great love for us and let us respond with all the love we could give. Only pure divine love can save us!” (CBCPNews)

http://www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=10456

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SALITANG NAGKATAWANG-TAO: Reflection for the Solemnity of Christmas Year C – December 25, 2012 – Year of Faith

Maligayang Pagkakatawang-tao ng “Verbo” sa inyong lahat!  Kakaibang pagbati di ba? Nakakasawa na kasi ang pagbating “Maligayang Pasko” o “Merry Christmas!”  Kaya’t ibahin naman natin “for a change” ika nga!  Ngunit kung ating titingnan ay ito naman talaga ang kahulugan ng Pasko.  Ang pagkakatawang-tao ng Anak ng Diyos na ang tawag din natin ay “the mystery of Incarnation.”  Sa Misa ng araw tuwing Pasko ay laging ipinaalala sa atin ng Ebanghelyo ang katotohanang ito. “Sa pasimula pa’y naroon na ang Salita. Kasama ng Diyos ang Salita at ang Salita ay Diyos… Naging tao ang Salita at siya’y nanirahan sa piling natin.”  Ito ang pahayag ni San Juan sa pasimula ng kanyang Ebanghelyo.  Ang Salita na Diyos ay nagkatawang-tao.  Mahirap maunawaan ang katotohanang ito!  May kuwento na minsan ay may lalaking nagdasal sa Panginoon sapagkat nagkandamamatay ang kanyang mga alagang baboy.  Ito pa naman ang ipinambubuhay niya sa kanyang pamilya kaya’t nagsumamo siya sa Diyos na iligtas ang kanyang mga baboy sa kamatayan.  Sumagot naman ang Diyos at sinabing: “Sige, bukas na bukas din ay gagaling ang iyong mga alagang baboy ngunit may isang kundisyon, bukas pagkagising mo ay makikita mo ang iyong sarili sa kulungan ng mga baboy.  Kasama ka nilang kakain, matutulog at magpapagulong-gulong sa kanilang dumi, sa madaling salita… magiging baboy ka rin!”  Napaisip ang lalaki at pagkatapos ng ilang sandali ay nagdasal:  “Lord, kunin mo na lang ang mga baboy ko!” hehehe… Ikaw kaya ang malagay sa kanyang sitwasyon, papayag ka ba na maging baboy?  Kung ating iisipin ang tao at baboy ay parehong hayop.  Mas mataas lang ang tao sapagkat siya ay hayop na nag-iisip! Tanggalin mo ang kanyang kakayahang mag-isip at mag-aasal hayop siya!  Kaya nga’t hindi ganun ka-imposible ang tao na magiging baboy.  Ngunti ang Diyos na maging tao ay hindi saklaw ng tamang pag-iisip.  Paanong ang MANLILIKHA ay ibaba ang kanyang sarili at magiging isang nilikha?  Tanging Diyos lang ang makapag-isip ng ganyan!  Bakit ninais ng Diyos na maging isang nilikha sa kabila ng kanyang kadakilaan?  Ang sabi ni San Juan ay ito… “Gayon na lamang ang PAG-IBIG ng DIYOS sa mundo kaya’t ibinigay Niya ang kanyang bugtong na Anak.”  (Jn 3:16)  Kung gayon ay ito ang dahilan ng paggiging nilikha ng Diyos:  dahil sa laki ng pagmamahal Niya sa ating mga makasalanan!  Mga kapatid tuwing Pasko ay ipinaaalala ng Diyos sa atin ang kanyang dakilang regalo: ang kanyang bugtong na anak… si Jesus na nagkatawang-tao!  Ano naman ang regalo ko sa kanya?  Kung ang Diyos ay nagsakripisyo para sa akin ay nararapat lang siguro na ako rin ay magsakripisyo para Kanya.  Ang kanyang katapatan ay dapat ko ring suklian ng katapatan, ang kanyang pagmamahal ng aking pagmamahal.  May nagawa na ba akong kabutihan sa aking kapwa ngayong Pasko?  Naglaan ba ako ng oras sa aking pamilya upang makapiling sila ngayong Kapaskuhan?  Binati ko na ba ang mga taong may sama ako ng loob? Nagpatawad na ba ako sa mga nagkasala sa akin?  Ang Salitang nagkatawang-tao ay humahamon sa atin na gawin nating makatotohan ang ating pagmamahal.  Ipakita sa gawa ang pagkakatawang-tao ng Salita!

http://www.kiliti-ng-diyos.blogspot.com/2012/12/salitang-nagkatawang-tao-reflection-for.html

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See Today’s Readings: Cycle C

Back to: Christmas Day (Year C)

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